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Alison Gaylin | Photo: Peter Ross | April 30, 2013
Meet the New York heavies behind reality TV.
Meryl Poster: The Straight Shooter
Long before she took the reins of Mob Wives and the Project Runway franchise, executive producer Meryl Poster was well-versed in the ways of reality TV. As a Miramax Films honcho, Poster appeared on-camera alongside Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in the company’s very first reality series, Project Greenlight. “At the time, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into,” she says of the 2002 cult favorite, in which Damon and Affleck saw a wannabe filmmaker’s dream project through to production.
But despite any initial misgivings, Poster took beautifully to the medium. Her shoot-from-the-hip style made her a Greenlight fan favorite. And it continues to serve her well in a genre in which authenticity is both rare and key. “I’ve always said, I am who I am,” says Poster, 48. “I’m very honest and straightforward. It isn’t always pleasant, but it’s always in the best interest of the company.”
From her very first show business job—as the second woman ever to work in the William Morris Agency’s famed mailroom—on through the two decades she worked for Miramax, she has maintained that sense of loyalty. “My position may have changed over the years, but I really haven’t,” says Poster, who executive produced such big-screen hits as Chicago, Chocolat and The Cider House Rules.
She’s loyal to her TV shows, too. The daughter of a swimsuit manufacturer and a model with a love of fashion, Poster was already a die-hard Project Runway fan when, in 2011, Harvey Weinstein lured her back from NBC to executive produce both Runway and its spinoffs Project Runway All-Stars and Project Accessory. “My 13-year-old daughter and I still watch it all the time,” she says. And Mob Wives—which Poster says she knew was a “home run” right away—is the icing on the cake. “It exposes us to a world we’ve never seen,” she says, explaining that she sees that as the main appeal of the genre.
“The best reality shows either take you to a place you’ve never been before, or take your own life to another level,” Poster says. “Either way, it’s a great escape.”
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